The Top 5 Idiots of May

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Welcome to Deadspin’s IDIOT OF THE MONTH, in which we make fun of famous (and non-famous!) people who have done stupid things. And May did not disappoint.

Hold on to your butts.

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Honorable Mentions: Jesús Luzardo, Huascar Ynoa and Zach Plesac

Honorable Mentions: Jesús Luzardo, Huascar Ynoa and Zach Plesac

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Illustration: Getty Images

No one should be on this list because they injured themselves.

Unless… they did so in extremely idiotic ways.

May I present to you, dear reader, three MLB players who hurt themselves in astoundingly stupid scenarios.

Let’s start at the beginning of the month.

May 1 Jesús Luzardo, Video Games: Hours before his start, the A’s pitcher slammed his throwing hand on a table while playing a video game. Hours later, he found a way to pitch through the pain. But after the ball game, an X-ray revealed a broken bone in his pinky.

“It was an immature mistake and it was a stupid mistake,” he said, days later. “But I still made a mistake and that’s something that I’m going to learn from and I’m not going to do again.”

May 16 Huascar Ynoa, Punching Bench: Baseball is a frustrating game. And over the course of a 162 game season, the fucking slog can make you snap.

The dugout is the place, it seems, where you can just let go. Go ahead, throw that water cooler! Mash that bat! Yeah, scream into the void on the way into the tunnel. As long as you don’t hurt yourself or anyone around you, everything seems fair game.

But Braves pitcher Huascar Ynoa did not follow the first half of that final rule. After allowing 9 hits and 4 runs in 4 1/3 innings, he punched the dugout bench and broke his right hand. It will take months for the young pitcher to recover.

May 23: Zach Plesac, “Aggressively” Ripping Shirt Off: Oh, Zach, a friend of Deadspin’s Idiot series. Welcome back, old pal!

Last week, Cleveland manager Terry Francona revealed that he put Plesac on the injured list after fracturing his thumb while “rather aggressively ripping off his shirt.”

Thankfully, the pitcher won’t need surgery and will begin throwing again in three weeks.

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No. 5 Utah Jazz

No. 5 Utah Jazz

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It’s usually a pretty stupid business strategy to not listen to your employees, especially you’re most productive one.

Yet that’s exactly what the Utah Jazz did before Game 1 of their series with the Memphis Grizzlies. Star guard Donovan Mitchell had been nursing an ankle injury for weeks before the start of the playoffs and he was trying his best to come back to play. The problem arose when Mitchell felt like he was progressing faster than the Jazz trainers felt he was progressing. The tension was so deep that Mitchell even brought in his own training staff to help with his recovery. The All-Star guard was adamant about playing in Game 1 of the series and was incensed when he was scratched late by the team before the game.

I get the abundance of caution for your franchise player’s health. But when you practice him for three straight days before the game, give him all the indications that he’s going to play, and he tells you he feels good enough to play, you can’t mess up your relationship with your star guy by trying to put your foot down in that situation. Needless to say, Mitchell didn’t play in Game 1 and the Jazz lost the first game to Ja Morant and the Grizzlies. Since Mitchell came back into the lineup Memphis doesn’t have an answer for him. They currently lead the series 2-1.

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Nos. 4 Dave Kaval and Rob Manfred

Nos. 4 Dave Kaval and Rob Manfred

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Has a friend of yours ever bailed on plans he/she had with you, and given an excuse along the lines of: “I’d love to come out, but my significant other wants me to stay in?” You know their partner doesn’t care whether or not they go out. It’s obviously just an excuse to attempt to shift the blame away from themselves and onto someone you can’t be upset with. It’s an attempt to save face that falls flat.

That’s essentially what happened with the Oakland Athletics last month. Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval tweeted out a message on May 11 claiming that Major League Baseball had “instructed” the A’s to start exploring other markets.

First off, Major League Baseball can’t force a team to look at other markets. Unlike any of the other “Big 4" sports leagues in America, MLB can reject a team’s desire to relocate, but that hasn’t happened in the last 100 years. This was a blatant attempt to put pressure on the city of Oakland to approve the proposed budget for their waterfront stadium. But how would the A’s be able to keep the support of their fans if they threaten to leave? Enter MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. By creating a false narrative that MLB was essentially forcing the Athletics’ hand, and instructing them to explore other markets, A’s fans were led to believe that the Athletics had no choice, and only had the city to blame for their beloved team’s potential departure. It’s a move so devilish, so sneaky, so clever, but just like the Great Wizard of Oz, the charade becomes evident if you just pull back the curtain a little bit.

It’s no secret that Kaval has wanted to leave RingCentral Coliseum (formerly Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum) for years. As a whole, the Athletics have been attempting to get out of that eyesore of a ballpark for decades now. What earns Kaval and Manfred the title of ‘Idiots of the Month’ is the blatant attempt to deceive the team’s fans, and put the city on edge almost without warning.

To further the audacity of Kaval during this situation, while his A’s were playing at home against division rival Seattle, he tweeted out a video of a roaring crowd in Las Vegas cheering for their NHL team — the Vegas Golden Knights — for Game 5 of their playoff series against the Minnesota Wild.

While the team he works for was playing, Kaval couldn’t resist sending a subtle middle finger to the city of Oakland, basically saying “I want to move the Athletics to Las Vegas, and I will if you don’t approve my plans for the waterfront ballpark I want.” Kaval even said publicly a day after posting that tweet that the A’s and the city of Vegas were on “parallel paths,” essentially confirming that the tweet was intentional and was supposed to be a punch in the gut/wake-up call/slap in the face to the Oakland City Council.

There will be a vote by those pols on July 20th that will determine the fate of the Athletics’ proposed waterfront ballpark at the Port of Oakland within Jack London Square. It will most likely be approved. Kaval is holding all the cards in this situation, but at what cost? The team’s fans have begun to see through Kaval’s thinly-veiled threat to relocate. For a team that claims to be “Rooted in Oakland.” Kaval seems content with leaving the city behind. He’s never cared about the city of Oakland or his team’s fans. He just wants a brand new, shiny toy for his team to play with.

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No. 3 Curt Miller

No. 3 Curt Miller

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3-Time WNBA All-Star, Las Vegas Aces center, and certified gangsta, Liz Cambage was the victim of body shaming at the hands of Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller.

Miller, who is the league’s only openly gay male head coach, was overheard pleading to referees during a recent game against the Aces opposing a foul called and saying, “C’mon! She weights like 300 pounds!”

He regretted the comments, which he made over the weekend, but has since been fined and suspended. If that wasn’t bad enough, Cambage, again, certified gangsta, spoke on the incident in an extremely entertaining fashion including saying, “If there’s one thing about me is that I will never let a man disrespect me … ever! Especially a little white one.”

Hoodie Melo. Gang Sign John Wall. Du-rag Liz. 6-foot-8 or not, you don’t wanna fuck with her, dawg. Hate it had to be you, Curt. Congrats, though.

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No. 2 Tony La Russa

No. 2 Tony La Russa

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Tony La Russa acts like he invented baseball, invented managing. While he’s not quite as old as Henry Chadwick or John McGraw, he may have a point.

The trend of using many relievers in a 9-inning game may not have started with La Russa, but he certainly popularized it. And while it may have given Dennis Eckersley more career mileage and enable him to rack up a ton of saves in a very efficient manner, it’s not always the best way to win games, because your best relief pitcher doesn’t always get to face the other team’s best hitter. That may have cost the White Sox games already this year.

But the big item that made the Idiot-o-Meter go off was La Russa criticizing his own player, Yermin Mercedes, for hitting a home run on a 3-0 pitch in a blowout with a position player on the mound. The crime? Violating the Unwritten Rules of Baseball. He even went so far as to say he didn’t have a problem with the Twins throwing at his own player.

Tony La Russa is 76, and he just came out of retirement. No one expects him to know the latest Olivia Rodrigo songs, but he should know the extra innings rules of the game he’s being paid to manage. He should also know that having his team’s back matters more than the unwritten rules that no one appointed him the guardian of.

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No. 1 Bob Baffert

No. 1 Bob Baffert

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Finding the most odious part of the whole Bob Baffert vulgar display of dumbassery is not so easy. First off, getting caught cheating in a sport where pretty much everyone cheats is quite the coup itself, especially when you’ve been caught before and might have a hint that you could be under closer scrutiny than normal.

But as we seem to learn on a daily basis, guys like Baffert, never consider that the rules apply to them. Especially when you’re someone that’s lorded over the industry as much as Baffert has the past twenty years. Baffert certainly thinks he’s bigger than horse racing, and that racing needs him more than he needs it.

Which is how you get someone like him turning to “cancel culture” to deflect from his misdeeds. And not even using it correctly! Everyone on that side thinks that any kind of censure or punishment is rooted in some form of jealousy, that it’s just a blind tearing down of anyone with any position of power and/or money. But it certainly doesn’t apply to sporting results. Bob, it’s “haters” in that context if you must reach into the drawer marked, “blind and baseless dismissal of any fair criticism or punishment.” “Cancel culture” is for things spoken. It’s like libel and slander. But we’ll get to that another day.

Baffert eventually had to own up to drugging his horse, because he’d just looked so stupid in trying to deny it. It’s one thing to have evidence mount against you. It’s another to put forth a defense so laughable and flimsy that you have to abandon it before it collapses on you, leaving you standing alone in the middle of the meadow.

Baffert thought merely being BOB BAFFERT was enough to skate on this, as he assuredly has before. And he thought the positive tests and banning from various tracks wasn’t a punishment of Baffert, but of BOB BAFFERT, his place in racing (and probably society in his mind). To Baffert, BOB BAFFERT is sacred and an institution that can’t be touched. Even by the actions of just Bob Baffert. Any attempt to is just tilting at windmills from the ungrateful and unwashed.

Luckily, this is one of these types of fucksticks that got his in the end.

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